FAIRFIELD, NJ, February 01, 2007 - The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) has named Meryl Zausner, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Novartis Oncology, as the 2007 “Woman of the Year.” Zausner was a founding member of the Novartis Oncology global business unit, established in 2000 with less than 1000 employees and $1.5 billion in sales. Today, Novartis Oncology is one of the world’s top Oncology companies with more than 4,000 employees and $6 billion in sales. “In a day and age when women are emerging as public leaders, this award takes on a special significance for me,” Zausner said. “I am excited about the recognition from friends and colleagues at Novartis and fellow members of the HBA, and am proud to add my name to the list of past Woman of the Year recipients.”
Zausner will be honored at the HBA’s 18th annual “Woman of the Year” (WOTY) Luncheon on Thursday, May 3rd, at the New York Hilton. Awards for the Honorable Mentor, one Star Volunteer, and a group of “Rising Stars,” whose outstanding accomplishments have made a difference in the industry, will also be given at the luncheon. This year marks HBA’s 30th anniversary, so the luncheon – always a sell-out industry event – promises to be even more special than usual.
Based on many strong nomination letters, the HBA Board of Directors agreed that Zausner personified the criteria for Woman of the Year, which includes success in the healthcare industry, strong leadership capabilities, proven mentoring skills, dedication, giving back to women and contributions to the community. “Meryl is one of the rare global professionals who effectively balance the performance and personal sides of business to bring out the best in people and in an organization,” said Cathy Kerzner, President & COO, EKR Therapeutics, Inc., and HBA President. “Colleagues credit her approachable and genuine manner, effective and inclusive leadership style, and dedication to addressing issues that are unique and specific to women.”
Zausner’s most notable accomplishment has been working closely with the President and CEO of Novartis Oncology, David Epstein – himself an HBA Honorable Mentor of the Year – in growing the oncology business to yield exceptional results for six consecutive years since its launch. In addition to her role as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Zausner sits on the Oncology Executive Coordinating Committee and has been an active member of the Novartis Pharmaceutical Global Diversity Council, for the past two years serving as its Chair. During that time, Zausner has co-led the development of Novartis’ Annual Female Leadership Forum, played an integral part in the global deployment of Winning Styles Workshops for Novartis Women and spearheaded a series of women’s networking events around the world. “Meryl is a truly unique and exceptional business leader, talent nurturer, role model and person,” wrote David Epstein, President and CEO, Novartis Oncology in his nomination letter. “She is tough on business, but caring and compassionate about people. Her distinctive leadership has had a tremendous impact on Novartis and its people.” Thomas Ebeling, CEO of Novartis Pharma AG and HBA Europe Board member, wrote in his nomination that “Meryl is perceived as a pioneer and inspiration to those around her. She has exemplified her stellar leadership as a business woman, cultivator of internal talent and champion of diversity and inclusion.”
Colleagues who work with Zausner consider themselves privileged to do so. “Meryl’s approach to her work keeps us all energized to ensure that every individual, regardless of who they are, has equal access and an opportunity to achieve their career aspirations,” said Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Vice President and Global Head, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Novartis Pharma.
Zausner has worked in the Consumer Products and Pharmaceutical industries for 28 years. She started her career in Public Accounting, and after receiving her CPA in New York joined the Colgate Palmolive Company. Her roles at Colgate included work in M&A, global internal audit, an assignment in Zimbabwe and support of their European and African divisions. In 1986, she assumed the role of Controller of a new start up venture company within the Colgate umbrella. Zausner joined Novartis (then Sandoz) in 1988 as an Associate Director in the OTC business and was promoted to Director and then Executive Director. She continued working in the US Pharmaceutical organization until her appointment as head of finance for the Global Oncology business unit in 2000.
*Titles reflect positions at the time the award was presented.